Strikeforce Rating

April 30, 2008 has learned that Strikeforce on NBC did a 0.5 rating on April 19. That number is considered good, in fact good enough to place #24 on the Network Sports Programming Top 30. For some perspective, Poker After Dark, the program’s lead-in, did a 0.7 while an NHL Playoff game on NBC did a 0.9. The top rated sports program of the week on network TV was a 3.5 for an NBA playoff game on ABC.

Iron Ring Rating 4/15

April 30, 2008

The 4/15 episode of Iron Ring drew a 0.69 rating (663,000 viewers) on BET according to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. That number was down significantly from what the series had been averaging.

Viva UFC?

April 29, 2008

According to a sidebar in Forbes’ recent UFC cover story, the Fertittas are planning nine new editions to their Station Casino empire, including a massive project called Viva:

The biggest, at 110 acres, will accommodate a three-casino project called Viva, which is intended to incorporate hotels, condos and perhaps an arena. The parcel is just off the Vegas Strip behind MGM Mirage’s $8 billion CityCenter. Viva’s cost could reach $10 billion, which would make it the most expensive casino project ever, if you don’t adjust for inflation. (emphasis added)

The inclusion of an arena on the property would be an interesting development. A UFC owned arena project has been rumored dating back to the origination of the company’s $325 million loan. Such a project would seem to represent the perfect synergy between the Fertittas’ primary businesses. However, the site will be built over many years and the first phrase will reportedly include three casinos and hotels, but no arena.

According to the Las Vegas Sun, Viva will be the company’s crowning achievement:

Originally conceived as a single casino hotel built on a few dozen acres, plans for Viva grew exponentially as Station quietly bought or obtained rights to develop the 110-acre site, currently home to squat, nondescript warehouses and retail stores.

“It started to build upon itself, like putting together pieces of a puzzle,” Lorenzo Fertitta said.

In its expanded form, Viva will establish the Fertittas as “Strip players” and cement their legacy as casino entrepreneurs beyond their success in the neighborhood casino business — a track record long admired by their counterparts on the Strip.

“In a lot of ways, it will change the face of the company,” Lorenzo Fertitta said.

Opportunity Knocks?: The Rising Cost of Original Programming on Cable TV

April 29, 2008

The May 5 edition of BusinessWeek features an article entitled Spending Like Mad Men on Cable TV. The article notes the growing cost of original programming on cable television which is up to $1 million per episode for one-hour scripted dramas on basic cable and $3 million per episode on premium television. The run-up is threatening to begin eating into profit margins at the networks.

In theory, depending on the success of EliteXC’s debut on CBS in May, this trend could create increasing interest in MMA programming. The product is relatively cheap to produce in comparison to other original programming options (at least from the networks’ prospective) and has demonstrated an ability to draw viewers and sell subscriptions. The key factor that would seem to be holding back expanded MMA coverage on cable is the lack of mainstream acceptance and success for anyone outside of the UFC, two things that could change on May 31.

One particularly interesting potential development in the television industry that could affect MMA is prospect of a new premium television station started by Paramount, MGM, and Lionsgate. On April 21, the studios announced they will leave Showtime to start their own network in 2009. Such a network could easily be in the market for cheap, attractive programming.

However, according to BusinessWeek, some analysts believe the studios’ threat is merely a negotiating ploy. Showtime was asking the studios’ to accept a lower fee during negotiations for an extension. It is apparently a difficult time to launch a new network with major cable and satellite companies saving space for HD channels and other services (such as on demand video).

UFC Announces Secondary Ticket Market Deals

April 28, 2008

Yesterday the UFC announced a pair of deals in the secondary ticket market. Under the deals StubHub is now the “Official Fan to Fan Ticket Marketplace” of the UFC, while PrimeSport is the “Official Ticket Package Partner” of the UFC. According to the press release, “the deal promises to offer UFC fans the most user-friendly experience to buy and sell secondary tickets as well as exclusive package and hospitality opportunities that have never been available before for UFC events.”

SEE ALSO: Upcoming UFC Advances and Secondary Marketplace Strategy

ProElite Inks DVD Distribution Deal

April 28, 2008

ProElite has reached a multi-year deal with Image Entertainment to distribute four EliteXC titles and eight ShowXC titles annually. EliteXC Destiny (featuring Shamrock-Gracie) and Renegade (featuring the debut of Kimbo Slice) will be released on May 13. On July 22 the company will release Huntington Beach Bad Ass featuring Tank Abbot.

Ortiz and Liddell Announce New Partnerships

April 28, 2008 recently reported that Tito Ortiz has landed an endorsement deal with Miller Brewing Company’s Mickey’s brand. The brand was the official beer of the UFC before being supplanted by rival Anheuser-Busch’s Bud Light brand. According to the report, “as part of his deal with Mickey’s, the company will develop promotions, events and packaging featuring Ortiz. Mickey’s will also work alongside Ortiz’s Team Punishment clothing brand for cross-promotional opportunities.”

It was also recently announced that Chuck Liddell is developing a nutrition line called IcemanRX. According to the press release, the deal is worth “in excess of several million dollars.”

Latest on HDNet v. Zuffa: Resolution by End of Summer Appears Likely

April 28, 2008

On April 9, a Federal Judge remanded HDNet Fights’ declaratory judgment action against Zuffa to Texas state court. The case was officially reopened on April 15 and the proceedings to determine Couture’s contractual status are progressing quickly. With HDNet’s lawyers reportedly pushing the pace, a resolution of the case by the end of the summer appears more and more likely.

Court records obtained by show that Zuffa filed a motion to dismiss on April 21, while HDNet filed a motion for summary judgment on April 23. The motion to dismiss is scheduled to be heard on May 19, while the motion for summary judgment will be heard on June 2. However, details on the case will become increasingly difficult to obtain thanks to Zuffa’s motion to seal the proceedings.

NY Times Feature on WWE

April 27, 2008

Tomorrow’s edition of the New York Times features a piece on the success of the WWE called Better Days, and Even the Candidates, Are Coming to W.W.E. The article focuses on the company’s recovery from last years Chris Benoit scandal. Key exert (including Dana White quote):

Awash in cash, W.W.E. is investing globally. It currently shows programs in 23 languages in more than 130 countries, and is now concentrating on expansion in Latin America, China, India, Australia and Japan.

“Here’s the formula we’ve been using very successfully,” said Linda McMahon, the chief executive “We first introduce our product into the marketplace via the television show. Once we’ve introduced our talent and our story lines via television, then we follow with live events and licensing and merchandising.”

Such success abroad has come at an opportune time for W.W.E, which still faces considerable challenges at home. While the presidential candidates’ appearance on “W.W.E. Monday Night Raw” may attest to wrestling’s cultural significance in the United States, the show’s television ratings are down slightly year over year and it lost viewers in the 18-to-34 age group. Analysts say W.W.E. lacks the charismatic and marketable stars it once had.

Until recently, its domestic pay-per-view revenues had been declining, in part because of competition from the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the leading brand in mixed martial arts.

But Dana White, president of the U.F.C., said: “People have been trying to count the W.W.E. out for years,” he said. “They’re a powerhouse.”

Second Opinion: Englebrecht on IFL & ProElite 10-Ks

April 26, 2008

Roy Englebrecht is the owner of Roy Englebrecht Promotions, California’s third largest boxing promotions company. Oscar De La Hoya purchased the company in December of 2001 and Golden Boy Promotions was formed, with Roy serving as COO for the first three years. At the end of 2004 Roy Englebrecht Promotions was again reestablished, with Oscar De La Hoya now as a minority partner. Roy offered the following Second Opinion on the IFL and ProElite’s recent 10-K filings.

I have been reading the stories about the awful 10-K annual reports for IFL and ProElite, and I just have to comment.

I want you to know I pray for humility every day, and I don’t want to sound like I am tooting my own horn, but what are these guys doing in the fight business in the first place if they don’t know how to be profitable!

According to Jay Larkin of the IFL, and I thought Jay’s leadership and creativity at Showtime boxing was as good as anyone in the sport, but he says 20 MMA groups are all struggling. Well, I’ll promote eight to 10 pro mma clubs shows in 2008, and I won’t lose money on any of them!

In 2007, my fight business did $1.1 million in gross revenue, and I read that the IFL only did $5.7 million in gross revenue and ProElite did only $5.3 million in gross revenue… mean that my company, which is all of two people, me and my matchmaker Arnold Berber, did over a million in revenue and we turned a profit, and the IFL and ProElite with their vast staffs and network partners did just awful!! With their staffs and resources they should have made $35 million, not lost $35 million!!

While I respect Dana White for the way he has grown the UFC, and though I don’t agree with some of his statements in the past, I give him my top kudos for his statement in the Forbes UFC article, where he was quoted in regards to some comments about competitors like ProElite on CBS and HDNet Fights, that “CBS doesn’t know the fight business, and Mark Cuban doesn’t know anything about the fight business, either.”

He hit the nail on the head…..these so called “fight promotions companies” don’t know the fight business. Their executives can negotiate nice fighter agreements, and secure great site fees with venues and casinos, but they have never “promoted a show” never rented a venue, created the marketing, had to sell all the tickets, hire an event staff, made sure towels, water and ice were in the dressing rooms, and had to stay within a show budget. These companies aren’t fight promoters, they are syndicators.

My MMA Fist Series will promote four hotel ballroom shows and fill them with 1,250 young fans. We’ll do two SummerFist Fair shows in Fresno and Orange County, free to fair goers, and I will do one SummerFist show at a minor league baseball stadium, and every one will turn a profit!

I have lived by a credo that I came up with 20 years ago….I give my fans great entertainment, at the right price, in a clean environment, and say thank you and mean it! Because I am anal about doing all four points all the time, my fans come back!

I’m afraid some of those “struggling mma groups” are missing one or two of the points that I preach!

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